Christmas

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Post by Clemsy » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. Intensely so. This is probably because my parents “kept Christmas well” when I was a child, but it is also because of the wonderful joy the nuns in my Catholic school so obviously felt for this Holy Day. Though my spiritual focus has changed dramatically over the years, much of my spiritual foundation lay in memories like singing ‘O Holy Night’ (probably the most passionate song ever written, to my mind) in a 50 voice boys choir during midnight Mass.

Let us share our memories. The full spectrum is welcome and important. For many of us, Christmas is not a time of joy. This too should be honored.

I’d like to start off with the words of a song that has struck me as rather spot on since I first heard it. Written by Jackson Browne for a recording session with The Chieftains and released on the cd Bells of Dublin, which I highly recommend, btw, for those who care for the sound of pipes, fiddles, etc.

The Rebel Jesus

Now the streets are filled with laughter and light,
And the music of the season.
The merchants windows all are bright
With the faces of the children,
And the families hurrying to their homes
As the sky darkens and freezes.
We’ll be gathering around our hearths and tables
Giving thanks for God’s graces,
And the birth of the rebel Jesus.

We call him by the Prince of Peace
And we call him by the Savior.
We pray to Him upon the seas
And in every bold endeavor.
As they fill His churches with their pride and gold,
And their faith in him increases,
They have turned the Nature that I worship in,
From a temple to a robbers den,
In the words of the rebel Jesus.

We guard our world with locks and guns,
We guard our fine possessions,
And once a year when Christmas comes
We give to our relations.
Perhaps we give a little to the poor
If the generosity should seize us,
But if anyone of us should interfere
In the business of why they are poor
Get the same as the rebel Jesus.

Now please forgive me if I seem
To take the tone of judgement,
For I’ve no wish to come between
This day and your enjoyment.
In this life of hardship and of earthly toil
We have need for anything that frees us.
So I bid you pleasure and I bid you cheer
From a heathen and a pagan
On the side of the rebel Jesus.


Peace,
Clemsy


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Clemsy on 2002-12-06 20:04 ]</font>
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Post by JR » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I love that album (particularly the Wren) but I lost it a long time ago and I haven't heard it since, but I did hear the Chieftans live in a pub in New Ross about three years ago so I can't complain.

As for Christmas, I've never really had a distinct feeling about the holiday, I supose I did when I was younger, but that fades quickly when the only distinguishing factor from any other day is the big tree in your living room.

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Post by Guest » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Dear Clemsy,

I have not cared for christmas in a long time.I guess I feel to old for the holiday,but then it means something different to me now.

Joseph Campbell believed that the virgin birth was symbolic.I agree with that somewhat.I think that we can all view it that way.If we do then maybe the Christ child will be born in our hearts.

I'd rather have Jesus than anything this old world affords today.
-George Beverly Shea

Merry Christmas,
Cadfael
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Post by Scarlett » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Well Clemsy,

I love Christmas! I have been blessed with many wonderful memories. Like you, I was raised in the Chatholic tradition...and even though my mother to this day follows the Chatholic Laws to the bone, my holidays were rich in 'pagan' traditions as well.

We had a nativity scene on our mantle and we weren't allowed to put the infant Jesus into the manager until midnight Christmas Eve. I used to sing in the Christmas Choir at midnight mass. There is something magical about attending mass that late with the candles all around symbolizing the return of the light.

My father dressed up as Santa Clause and delivered our Christmas presents Christmas Eve. We invited relatives and had a festive Christmas Eve dinner and then we were escorted upstairs by the adults to wait for Santa Clause. My dad, not the traditional looking Santa Claus, being skinny and 6 foot tall, managed to fool us for many years...until one Christmas I noticed his real beard under the cheap white one!
However, I being the oldest of six in my family, relived the experience over and over again with my five younger sisters and brothers. And I can relive it today with my 2 year old son.

Sorry, for the rambling...but you asked :smile:

Christmas means so much more to me today because of all the symbolism that has come to life for me in a new way. For example, placing the date of Christmas around the winter sol. has connected my holiday and traditions with many other religions in the world, who also celebrate their holidays around the same time.

And of course Santa Clause...the city I live in had a display of 'Santa Clauses from around the world' in a building Downtown...it was great. There was one country who had a female figure, whose persona resembled that of our Santa Clause. Across the street downtown, they had a nativity scence which was an exact replica of the one in the vatican...which you need persmission to duplicate. ooo lal lal :smile:

There is an excitement in the air...despite all of the negative energy that drives people crazy to find the right presents. I've talked to people who work in retail around this time of year, and it does get discouraging to hear how people behave. However, I think all of the symbolism that comes with Christmas counteracts the negative. It is everywhere...and it is easy to hear it in my heart.

And for those people who feel a lose or depression around this time,I say find the things about Christmas that make you happy. Even if its only the lights on a Chrismas Tree...think about what those lights mean...and that hope is always present. Pandora was lucky to shut the box on despair before it flew into the air to haunt us...we forever have hope!

I don't mean to sound like a Hallmark commercial...and I know that holidays can bring a lot of pain as well as joy. But I do believe the experiences that are given to us in life are suppose to help us grow spiritually...based on our choices of course!

So make the choice to cast away or put our bad memories aside...acknowledge them yes (they are a part of you, but not all of you)...put them down and embrace the light. The light of the world is coming!

Would it not be great if all the world could come together with the same outlook on life...even with different traditions...it would be wonderful to look for the same 'Light' whatever name or philosphy you would like to call it.

p.s. last year's December myth letter was great...if you haven't read it...check it out.

Love,
Scarlett
For all men live by truth and stand in need of expression. In love, in art, in avarice, in politics, in labor, in games, we study to utter our painful secret. The man is only half himself, the other half is his expression. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Post by JR » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2002-12-07 16:03, Scarlett wrote:
Christmas means so much more to me today because of all the symbolism that has come to life for me in a new way. For example, placing the date of Christmas around the winter sol. has connected my holiday and traditions with many other religions in the world, who also celebrate their holidays around the same time.

And of course Santa Clause...the city I live in had a display of 'Santa Clauses from around the world' in a building Downtown...it was great.
I think this is a wonderful twist on the Catholic Church's tradition of placing holidays on dates that correspond to previously popular events within the context of cultures that they have converted (or tried to).

Rather than quashing the culture (as I believe was the intent) it provides a link to the past and an appreciation of difference. It also takes an espescially open minded and good natured person to transend the doctrine. So, good for you Scarlet. And have a happy <a href="http://www.e-sheep.com/Saturnalia/" target="4"><font size="4">winter solstice!</font></a> {NOTE! be carefull with this link if you have sensitive sensibilities. I just slipped it in for a laugh.}
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<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: JR on 2002-12-07 18:17 ]</font>
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Post by Scarlett » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

JR, somehow I don't think that one would go over very well with my family:)

I am familiar with the horn god...I see him in movies and literature a lot. For example, the image of the forest spirit in the animated movie, Princess Monoke resembles this godly figure...and the fictional book, THE MISTS OF AVOLON, talks about the seasonal mating with the goddess and the 'horned one' However, I never thought of Santa's reindeer as a link to him though. Wow.

About the cartoon, I was laughing until the end. I am not sure I am comfortable with the ending. Although the woman was spiritually awakened...it seemed rather violent...I would rather not use the word I was thinking of. Although funny and a good message...it seemed to concentrate on the animal chakras as people might say, and not the true beauty the 'horned god' is suppose to represent. (Yes, I know he is the seed of life) I can see what it's trying to say, but I can also see how it would be offesive to others...futher closing their already closemindness (for lack of a better word)

P.S. if you were trying to shock me...because of my previous post...well it was funny and disturbing...but interesting nonetheless :smile:

Good wishes
Scarlett
For all men live by truth and stand in need of expression. In love, in art, in avarice, in politics, in labor, in games, we study to utter our painful secret. The man is only half himself, the other half is his expression. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Post by JR » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

No shock intended scarlet, I just love <a href="http://www.e-sheep.com/main.shtml" target="4"><font size="4">Patrick Farley's</font></a> comics, and though because of the subject matter it was appropo.

I actually find it a little over the top too, but on the basis of his other work I think it's to make a separate point. What that is though I don't know. I'm glad you laughed through most of it at least, his other work is typically both funnier and more insightfull.
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Post by Scarlett » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

JR, I think I will check them out.
Always up for a learning experience :smile:

I have to do a door decorating contest (I teach an intermediate life skills class) for Christmas. I decided to do the twelve days of Christmas...I've been researching the orgins of the song. I know the whole interpretation the Chatholic church takes on the song, but does anyone know of any web sites with a different interpretation?

Thanks
Scarlett :smile:

For all men live by truth and stand in need of expression. In love, in art, in avarice, in politics, in labor, in games, we study to utter our painful secret. The man is only half himself, the other half is his expression. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Post by Clemsy » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Ha! Shock humor from the pelvic region! Truth to tell JR, while an in your face contrast can have value, this sort leaves me with a half-faced grin, if you take my meaning.

Not that I’m an expert on Celtic and N. European myth (I’m not.), but my understanding of the stag as a fertility figure may have more to do with Easter than Christmas. Now that image is way outside the ‘shock value zone’ for me! (This was mentioned over in the Reluctant Suitor thread and, I think, applies here in that shock requires the right ‘frequency, wavelength and amplitude’, you might say.)

As an interesting aside, I was married in the Catholic tradition and had to select from a limited choice of Bible readings and had to choose one from the Old Testament. The only reading that wasn’t totally ridiculous when applied to my wife was one describing the groom as a ‘stag bounding on the hilltops’ (That would be me, right?). The maid of honor had a really difficult time with that one at the ceremony. My wife and I know that the tears streaming down her face were the tears of a suppressed belly laugh.

One thought the cartoon led to in my head is of value, I think. Christmas, for me, is all heart chakra. Christmas isn’t even the day. When my kids say, “I can’t wait for Christmas!” I tell them we’re in Christmas. Christmas is the anticipation, the lights, the music, the words ‘peace’ and ‘joy’ all over the place, the greetings from strangers with true felt intent and I could go on and on and on about what Christmas is without once saying the word ‘presents’. All of that energy felt and focused at the same time by so many people is like a wonderful radiation. One could tan in its glow, one could. The presents thing, which can be very much of the heart chakra, is infected by the pelvic energy of consumerism.

The counter to this can be in Father Christmas. Campbell says that children grow to learn that Santa is Daddy. The symbol rather dead-ends there. I’ve told my 10 year old, and I tell my students, that Santa is the spirit of giving. This spirit teaches of selflessness. Santa isn’t Daddy; he’s a symbol that evolves from the literal/concrete to the symbol/metaphor.

I believe in Santa.

I've enjoyed everyone's posts. Keep it going! Scarlett, you and I are tuned to a very similar Christmas wave, I think.

Gotta go. It’s snowing nicely and the porch wants firewood.

Clemsy


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Clemsy on 2002-12-08 10:29 ]</font>
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Post by JR » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Clemsy, I like your distinction of the chakras. Before I ever "got into" any of this comparative theology lark, I always thought the chakras were a big joke. Of course their symbolism was lost on me. But I think its important to value them and not only that but to <i>own</i> them as well, especially the animal (pelvic) charkas, lest they own you.

Despite my mild cynicism (honestly, I'm not a complete pagan), I definitely notice the transference of energy to the heart centers within many groups of people during the season. Though I would say that mostly (at least in California) people are ruled by consumerism and have really lost any type of real appreciation for the season.
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Post by Montaigne » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

To all you Northern Hemisphere people:

A slant to Christmas you probably don't ever think about: In my part of the world Christmas falls at summer soltice so Christmas for me means hot sunny weather - sometimes humid wet weather - blue sea and sky and Christmas dinner carted out to the beach.

Many of us here go camping, get sunburnt, lie exhausted in the shade of the New Zealand Christmas tree - the pohutukawa tree with its glorious scarlet flowers and its gnarled twisted old trunks.

Families gather here too but try to stay out of the broiling sun while beating off sticky flies and buzzing blowflies.

Christmas dinner here is often the traditional one but many of us prefer cold meats, salads, seafood dishes and other lightweight foods rather than the traditional heavyweights.

There is an assumption in many parts of the world that Christmas always means snow and mulled wine but that's not true for everyone.

Being Pagan I don't celebrate anything Christian - my wife and I usually celebrate the actual soltice whatever day it falls on.

We gather at our two big ponds and have a ritual that celebrates life and the energy of the earth and the cosmos, usually at night when it's cool.

So I'll think of you guys in the snow but I'm used to Christmas being hot and sticky and a time of swimming in the turquoise sea 10 minutes from here and that's the way I prefer it.

Merry Christmas/winter soltice/summer soltice

Montaigne




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Post by JR » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2002-12-08 22:43, Montaigne wrote:
Many of us here go camping, get sunburnt, lie exhausted in the shade of the New Zealand Christmas tree - the pohutukawa tree with its glorious scarlet flowers and its gnarled twisted old trunks.

...

Being Pagan I don't celebrate anything Christian - my wife and I usually celebrate the actual soltice whatever day it falls on.

We gather at our two big ponds and have a ritual that celebrates life and the energy of the earth and the cosmos, usually at night when it's cool.

Merry Christmas/winter soltice/summer soltice

Montaigne
The endangered <a href="http://www.projectcrimson.org.nz/trees.html" target="blank"><font size="4">pohutukawa and rata</font></a> Christmas trees
<a href="http://www.santas.net/aroundtheworld.htm" target="blank"><font size="4">Christmas around the world</font></a>!
And for the <a href="http://www.nzpagans.com/" target="4"><font size="4">Pagan(s)</font></a>.
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Post by Clemsy » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hello Montaigne and welcome to the JCF Forums!

Right now it's -5 F outside with two weeks to go before the Solstice! Aaahh! It's cold! Wish I was there... at least until the temp becomes civilized!

Peace,
Clemsy
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Post by Montaigne » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hello Clemsy, thanks for the welcome.

I enjoy reading your posts. I especially love your droll sense of humour - er - humor - er - no, I was right the first time - well, for me anyway.

I can't begin to imagine what -5F feels like - don't want to really. But I guess it goes with Christmas where you are.

Is it true that if a man is outdoors in -5F temperatures he speaks with a squeaky voice?

Montaigne



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Post by Clemsy » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Montaigne,
Naaa. I'm a man's man! I don't squeak until -15F. At that temp every part (and I mean every part) of your body reaches maximum pucker.

Squeak is all you can do.

Clemsy

PS: Droll... hmmmm, I think I like that... Thanks!
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